It's easy to take our electric lights for granted. Many people in developing counties don't have the luxury of electric grids and have to rely on kerosene lamps to brighten the night. Kerosene costs money and breathing the fumes is dangerous. A new light powered by gravity could be a superior solution to lighting needs.GravityLight doesn't need to be recharged through solar cells. It doesn't use batteries at all. It's powered by the same force that keeps our feet on the ground. A weight attached to the light takes 3 seconds to lift up, but provides 30 minutes of light as it descends. … Read more
Honeywell today summarily denied counterclaims in a patent infringement suit it filed against thermostat startup Nest Labs.
In a court filing, Honeywell stood by its claims that Nest infringed on its numerous patents in programmable thermostats. The suit was first filed against Nest in February.
Nest responded to the suit in April, saying that Honeywell's seemingly broad patents are "hopelessly invalid" and said Honeywell is trying to stifle innovation.
In today's filing, Honeywell fired back, saying the thermostat heavyweight intends to vigorously defend its intellectual property. The filing said Nest Labs' counter claims are "irrelevant … Read more
It's time for your DVR to get as smart as your iPad. If designers get it right, energy use from household electronics will stay under control without sacrifices in features.
By necessity, mobile devices, such as tablets and smart phones, need to be clever about power, just like an efficient hybrid car uses many tricks, such as turning the engine off when idle, to sip less gas.
By contrast, always-on electronics devices, such as set-top boxes, DVRs or often game consoles, operate as if they were going top speed at all times. As more devices in the home, such … Read more
Con Edison is betting that a modest smart outlet can help prevent the grid from crashing during a heat wave. The same gadget will also let people remotely control their air conditioners.
The New York utility said last week it intends to distribute 10,000 smart outlets from startup ThinkEco to residents in large apartment buildings as part of its peak power reduction program called CoolNYC. A regular air conditioner plugs into the smart outlets and allows for remote control of thermostat settings from a smart phone or Web browser.
People can choose to participate in Con Edison's CoolNYC … Read more
Here's something you can thank Steve Jobs for: a fatter electricity bill.
A dive into the data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) spells out what many of us intuitively know: the explosion in the number of computer gadgets and TVs has dramatically shifted the balance of household electricity over the years.
Even the rapid technology change of the Internet revolution can't compare to the always plugged-in lifestyle that's crept up on us through iPods, e-books, smartphones, DVRs, and the like. Electronics represented about 7.2 percent of household electricity use in 2001 and are … Read more
Nest Labs today fired back at Honeywell over its patent infringement case against Nest, claiming the thermostat giant is using its patent portfolio to stifle innovation.
The company also hired Apple's former chief patent counsel, Richard Lutton Jr., as it plans for a legal fight with Honeywell in the years ahead.
Founded by former successful Apple engineers, Nest Labs started selling its $250 Learning Thermostat last year and quickly sold out amid rave reviews over its design and ability to automatically set schedules.
The gadgets in your smart home now come with software updates.
Nest Labs today released the equivalent of version 2.0 software for its smart thermostat on the Web, iOS or Android. The software tweaks for the $249 Learning Thermostat are designed to help people better understand how thermostat changes affect energy usage.
The update presents energy history data over 10 days, a longer period than before and indicates when heating and cooling systems turned on. It can also show what caused setting changes -- the weather, a manual adjustment, or an auto-away setting.
A new air conditioning feature, called … Read more
Social media has officially come to energy efficiency.
Opower today announced the availability of a Facebook application that lets people track electricity use and communicate with friends around home energy. People can set up different groups of friends and compare themselves to similar homes or the most efficient homes.
Sixteen utilities in the U.S. (see list here) are participating in a program which feeds utility bill information directly into Facebook, allowing a person to see total kilowatt-hour usage. Others will need to manually input monthly energy data to compare to regional average and participating friends.
The information sharing is … Read more
There are three innovative technologies that will transform people's perception of clean energy and cause disruptive change in the industry, says NRG Energy CEO David Crane.
At the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco this week, Crane discussed those three innovations: smart meters, distributed-solar projects, and plug-in electric vehicles.
This video originally appeared on SmartPlanet with the headline "Three green technologies set to transform energy."
More SmartPlanet linksDo we need smart meters? Who will pay for the smart grid? How electric cars could pull the plug on U.S. highway funding
SolarCity has rapidly grown to be one of the largest solar installers. Now it's applying its financing model to energy efficiency.
The company today announced the availability of energy-efficiency loans that homeowners can use to finance home upgrades and defray upfront costs.
SolarCity's main business is solar, installing photovoltaic panels and offering homeowners leases under which they pay a monthly charge rather than actually purchase the panels. Two years ago, it bought privately held Building Solutions to expand into services and get access to that company's software.
SolarCity has started offering home efficiency assessments to its solar … Read more